Minister Harakka: Discussions on a project company for a new eastern rail connection to be started with cities
In autumn 2019, the Ministry of Transport and Communications initiated a study on the upgrading of the Savo and Karelia rail lines in eastern Finland and a comparative study on the routing of the high-speed eastern rail connection. The study just published on the development of rail connections in eastern Finland was carried out by the Transport Infrastructure Agency. As part of the study, the Infrastructure Agency held discussions in April with the cities, regional councils and other actors of the different rail corridors.
“The next step is to start discussions with the municipalities on the establishment of a project company for planning the new eastern rail link. The project company model can be used, if the municipalities are willing to finance the planning on the same terms as in the project companies to be established concerning the fast Finland Railway line and the one-hour Helsinki-Turku fast rail link,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.
According to the study, it is possible to improve the current rail network and its traffic and to reduce travel times in stages already in the near future. Even though according to the current assessment models, the eastern “shortcut” rail line does not seem socio-economically viable, the situation may change in the longer term.
The Government Programme requires that the railway plan for the eastern direction be assessed and preparations for the project companies started, if the plan meets the criteria specified in the Government Programme and is not separated from the development of the transport infrastructure network or the 12-year transport system plan. The study was commissioned in order to obtain further information on the development potential of the eastern direction and the impacts of the development.
What are the next steps?
The Ministry of Transport and Communications will survey the municipalities’ willingness to participate in the establishment of the project company and in financing the planning of the eastern direction.
In other respects, decisions on the further planning and development of the eastern rail lines, such as basic repair of the rails, will be made as part of the National Transport System Plan and its implementation that is currently being drafted for 2021–2032.
Matti Sadeniemi, Special Adviser, tel. +358 40 586 7234